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Rights of tenants and renters with disabilities

As a person with a disability, you have rights that protect you from discrimination in housing.

Important housing rights to know

Reasonable accommodations and modifications

A reasonable accommodation is a change or exception to a rule or service. This change helps a person with a disability use their apartment or condo and the common areas. A landlord should not charge you extra fees or deposits for receiving a reasonable accommodation.

Examples of reasonable accommodations

  • Allowing a service animal to stay with you in your apartment without paying a pet fee
  • Moving your assigned parking space closer to your apartment because you have difficulty walking long distances

A reasonable modification is a change to the structure of an apartment, condo, or common area where a person with a disability lives. Common areas are places like the clubhouse, laundry facilities, and pool area. A reasonable modification helps you more fully access these areas.   If you need a reasonable modification to make your apartment more physically accessible, you will likely have to pay the costs of the changes.

Examples of reasonable modifications

  • Installing grab bars in your shower
  • Widening a doorway 
  • Installing a flashing fire alarm

Learn more about reasonable accommodations and modifications.

Service and emotional support animals

An assistance animal is an animal that assists, performs tasks, or provides emotional support for a person with a disability. An assistance animal can be a service animal or an emotional support animal. An assistance animal is not a pet.

You can request to keep an assistance animal in your home, even if there are rules against pets. This is called a reasonable accommodation request, You may have to provide information about why you need the animal. 

Learn more about service and emotional support animals in housing. 

Effective communication

Landlords and housing agencies need to provide information in a way that you can understand.

Examples

  • Making sure notices and flyers are sent to you electronically so you can read them using speech to text software
  • Having an interpreter for resident meetings

 Learn more about effective communication. 

Physical accessibility

Physical accessibility requirements for an apartment building depend on many factors, including the funding source and the year people started living there. Your landlord or the apartment complex owner may have some responsibilities to make certain areas are physically accessible. 

Learn about physical accessibility requirements from the US Department of Housing (HUD).  

How to make a complaint

If you think your landlord or housing agency is denying your rights, here are some steps you can take: 

Start by putting your request or your complaint in writing to your landlord and ask for a written response. If they do not respond to meet your needs, contact an advocacy organization.

You may also need to contact an attorney. If you meet certain income requirements, you may qualify for free legal services. Find free legal services in your area.

The federal Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity investigates housing discrimination claims. File a complaint with the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

Ask us

Do you have questions about your housing rights? Our technical assistant specialists are here to help, Monday to Friday. Contact us.

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